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So it is time for a little Saturday morning thought sharing.


One of the wonderful things that happens when you live off the “tourist grid” is that you get to experience the unfiltered life of the ordinary person. For me, this includes things like sleeping on a non-western mattress. 

By any stretch of the imagination, I am not an expert on mattresses. After all, my experience is limited to a few trips around various parts of Vietnam, where I slept in Vietnamese hotels that do not cater to foreigners, and living in two different Vietnamese (vs. expat) neighborhoods. That said, I am an expert of my own experiences and I will share my thoughts with you about the mattresses I have slept on. 

So you have a reference point…in the States I sleep on an extra firm mattress with a pretty standard set-up: 12" mattress on top of a 10" box mattress on top of a wheeled steel mattress frame. Nothing special.

You'll have to trust me when I tell you that compared to what I am used to, every mattress I have slept on here in Vietnam is like sleeping on concrete. My current mattress is about 5" thick and well beyond uber-firm. It sits on a wood-slate bed frame - no box springs here, people.  I have no idea what is inside the mattress, except to say, I would be surprised if it has any springs. No bounce at all, zilch.

Now I'm not alone in this experience. I recently met a foreign colleague at my host university who is on her third experience in Vietnam, but she had only been in-country three weeks. When I asked how she liked living in Vietnam, her response was: “I forgot how hard the mattresses are. It usually takes me about a week to adjust, but this time it took me two weeks.”  I took me about two weeks this time as well.

We both agreed that the “adjustment” isn't related to an inability to go to sleep…when you're tired it's easy to go to sleep. Instead, you have to adjust to waking up every morning in pain; your shoulders, hips, and knees just ache. Thankfully, once you get adjusted the ache goes away. That said, we also both agreed that there is a positive effect. There seems to be some sort of chiropractic-like adjustment your body goes through that is hard to put into words. My back and neck haven't felt this good in years. This makes me wonder about the mattress ads I see on TV back in the States that tell me their mattress “conforms to your body”, "relieves pressure points”, and “aligns your spine”? Again…I'm no expert on mattresses.

I will end by saying that I have seen ads for mattresses in stores, and on TV, that fit the more western standard. I'm guessing it has to do with the ever increasing influence of western culture that has been eroding traditional Vietnamese values over the past 30 years.



JULY, p. 9

AUGUST, p. 9